Tuesday, October 26, 2010

God’s Answer to World Revolution: Our Lady of Fatima III

God’s Answer to World Revolution: Our Lady of Fatima II continued:

Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco, the three young seers of the Marian apparitions at Fatima in 1917, were introduced to the very depths of Christianity and to the heart of the Gospel. The Mother of God, who spent countless hours on earth in conversation with her divine Son, and who continues to commune with her Son in eternity, formed these three young souls with the most favorable spiritual direction any Christian could receive. The love of God and the expectancy of heaven was so deeply impressed upon their souls that all three children lost their natural fear of death.

In coming in contact with the Blessed Virgin, the children encountered the very presence of God in a profound way. And during their experience of the Divine Presence, they were able to see themselves in a new light. Lucia, the oldest of the children, reported that in one appearance the Lady opened her hands and shed upon the children a highly intense light. “This light penetrated us to the heart and its very recesses, and allowed us to see ourselves in God, Who was that light, more clearly than we see ourselves in a mirror…” Just as Mary mediated the Holy Spirit to her pregnant cousin Elizabeth upon her greeting at Zacharias’ house, in Fatima, she similarly mediated the presence of God, as in a ray of light, through her hands. Lucia would go on to describe, as best she could, the utter beauty of this Visitor from heaven: “It was a lady dressed all in white more brilliant than the sun, shedding rays of light, clear and stronger than a crystal glass filled with the most sparkling water pierced by the burning rays of the sun.”

It is important to note that with our Lady’s appearance, the three children experienced heaven. Jacinta, the youngest of the three, excitedly told her parents, “Heaven was so pretty…there were many wild ponies.” Lucia would later say that “before the Divine Presence we felt exaltation and joy.” It is under reported, to be sure, that after each visit with the Madonna they were supremely happy. This explains why Lucia asked Mary to take them to heaven; not later, but immediately. It also explains why, for them, a short life on earth was a blessing. Their detachment from earthly things was complete. Their thoughts were no longer preoccupied with what was below but instead they sought what was above. No sacrifice was too much, no suffering too unbearable, knowing that heaven awaited them.

In 1916, an Angel of Lord appeared to the three children to prepare them for what would ensue the following year. He asked them to “Offer up everything within your power as a sacrifice to the Lord in an act of reparation for the sins by which he is offended; and of the supplication for the conversion of sinners…Above all, accept and bear with submission the sufferings that the Lord may send you.” The Blessed Virgin repeated this request several months later when she asked, “Do you want to offer yourselves to God to endure all the sufferings that he may choose to send you, as an act of reparation for the sins by which he is offended and as a supplication for the conversion of sinners?” Lucia answered for the other two by saying, “Yes, we want to.” After which, Our Lady said, “Then you are going to suffer a great deal but the grace of God will be your comfort.” Soon after, in the month of July in 1917, Our Lady of Fatima showed them the fires of hell where countless souls descend. According to Lucia, demons and reprobate souls were engulfed in the torment of despair. They were deeply moved by this vision; it gave them a fresh determination to offer themselves as a living sacrifice to the Lord.

The three children would have to bear a heavy cross in the months that followed. Francisco and Jacinta, just two to three years after the apparitions, died at a young age. Poor little Jacinta even died alone in the hospital; this, she did for the conversion of sinners. Indeed, the heavenly-mindedness of all three children and their memory of hell inspired a great love for people and their willingness to suffer for them. They valued inconveniences, sufferings and contradictions as opportunities to make reparation for sinners. As St. Peter wrote, “whoever suffers in the flesh has broken with sin” and then adding, “love covers a multitude of sins.” (I Peter 4:1,8) Their early death, as sad it was for loved ones and unfortunate as it appeared to the world, speaks volumes about what God wants us to know about this life and the life to come. Indeed, the passing nature of this earthly life of ours and the enduring reality of heaven and hell is at the heart of the Fatima message.

Our Lady's message to Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco was God's answer to the question Pope Benedict XV asked in 1917 regarding the effectiveness of Catholic witness. To be sure, the eager anticipation of heaven, making reparation for sinners and seeking the Blessed Virgin's spiritual guidance is God's answer to the "diabolical wave" (as Sr.Lucia would write in 1971) of world revolution, atheism and war.